Author: JM Date Posted:18 May 2018
Peonies are among the oldest cultivated flowers in the world and they have a life span to suit, so it makes sense to make sure you give them everything they need for their long life right form the start.
Peonies, and here we are specifically dealing with the herbaceous type need a full sun position , a deep well prepared planting hole and a good dose of calcium . If provided with all three in time the reward is a bounty of glamorous flowers each December . The only additional rider here is that herbaceous Peonies need a good deal of frost to flower well , so if you do not experience crusty frozen soil regularly over the months of winter then growing Tree Peonies is your a option.
May is the month to make preparations for planting Peonies, planting can extend into June but the sooner the better as they are rapidly making root and shoot growth below ground over winter and by pushing their settling in period into late winter or spring a loss of a seasons growth is more than likely. Peony divisions take a few years to settle in so at this point every season counts.
Peony plants come in the mail as either divisions of large clumps in the case of vigorous varieties or with newer or less vigorous varieties as young plants established from root cuttings. It is important not to judge the quality of a plant on its size as peony hybrids have a wide variation in habit and vigour. The new strong reds are particularly small as they have a lot P. peregrinum in their blood and that species is a smaller grower. The older varieties that have been in the flower trade the longest are generally the most vigorous.
On receiving your parcel make sure the divisions are unpacked and given a rehydrating soak in water before being planted or if that is not possible then heal them in in a sheltered spot.
Soak in water
Peonies are long lived so the site chosen to grow them should consider any future shading from trees or buildings. If shade is likely to be cast in the future expect a reduced flowering or choose a site which has a sunny future. When planting supply a generous deposit of nutrition in the base of the planting hole , compost or well-rotted animal manure dusted with plenty of dolomite , the more the merrier, and finish off with a watering in of seaweed base plant tonic.
Hole full of compost.
The newly planted Peonies' first years effort will be less than impressive it will take a season for the roots to establish themselves and another to send up a first, rather small, flower. From then on and as each year passes the display will become more impressive and if you initially planted a reasonable number there will be plenty to pick for the house. Peonies really are a long term investment!
The temptation to divide you peony clump will no doubt haunt you in the future but it really is quite unnecessary, Peonies will happily flower on clumps as old as five hundred years so unless you need to move your plants just feed and lime your Peonies to keep them flowering at full capacity. Peonies like plenty of calcium and a PH of around 6 to 7 , in most Australian soils that means lime every year.
Peony foliage tends to want to die away soon after flowering and botrytis can be a problem but every effort should be made to keep the foliage healthy a quick spray with sulphur or fungicide will do the trick. Apart from this summer task Peonies are very long lasting and easy plants to grow, they are probably not ideal components of a garden as such due to their brief flowering season but they certainly deserve a spot in any flower lovers garden.